It’s safe to say that Britain—a country as of this week without a functioning Prime Minister in office—feels riven by arguments over its identity and place in the world. At this dicey moment in history, Burberry, with the Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci in charge, is one British institution which continues to believe in centering itself on border-free, non-nationalistic points of view. Tisci’s policy of turning over his pre-collections to perspectives on Burberry’s Britishness from his international network of “friends and family” is a proof of that.
This season, he looked to his American friend, the artist Jared Buckhiester, to collaborate. According to notes digitally winged from Burberry HQ, the two see eye-to-eye on looking at the brand signatures through the lens of UK rave culture—the lasting impression of the late ’90s which Tisci has held close to his heart since he studied at Central Saint Martins over 20 years ago.
Only no one ever actually turned up to illegal warehouse raves in Kings Cross or one-nighters in the muddy fields of England looking like the people in the lookbook. The remnants of that rave past seemed to have been cleaned up and embedded, perhaps, in hybridized military bombers and tailored coats in the form of the classic Burberry trench fused with a biker jacket.
But really, the Tisci /Buckhiester vision is a far more polished, lux-ed up vision of what the notes called ‘workwear,’ spiked with some glam heavy-duty black leather and contemporary twists of gender non- conformity. As part of that, there are long, tailored column skirts—or possibly maxi-aprons—that appeared to be assigned to the menswear side of the collection. (These are carry-overs from the last pre-collection, so their continuance must indicate commercial traction.)
The square that needs to be circled at Burberry is the same one that faces the divided British Conservative party—to try to cement loyalty, it has to have something that appeals to everyone. There are Burberry customers with small-c conservative tastes, or, put it this way, people who are in the market for straightforward classic clothes without any overt branding. Tisci hasn’t forgotten to design for them this season. Alongside the Burberry plaid denims, the male maxis, and some of Tisci’s hyper sexy slit skirts and curve dresses, there were moments when clean, sharp tailoring—particularly two black tuxedo jackets—stood out.